MARQUETTE - Donald O. Larsen and the late Ralph E. Bigger Sr., both of Marquette, will be inducted into the Upper Peninsula Labor Hall of Faine at an April 20 banquet.

The event begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. in the University Center, followed by dinner at 6:3 0 and the induction ceremony at 7:3 0. Tickets are available for $25 by calling 227-2104. The U.P. Labor Hall of Fame, located in the Superior Dome, is coordinated by the NMU labor education program.

A Delta County native, Larsen and his family moved to Marquette when he was a child. He graduated from Graveraet High School in 1941. After serving three years in the U.S. Army in the South Pacific during World War 11, he returned to Marquette and began bricklaying work at Beyer Brothers.

Larsen played an intricate role in the vocational program at Marquette High School for several years, alongside Lowell Larson. He taught bricklaying as part of the school's house building project. He also spent 10 years teaching union apprentices, during which time they participated in the construction of two Habitat for Humanity homes.

"Don's legacy is the tremendous effort and dedication he has put into providing instruction and leadership for the apprenticeship training programs in the local area," said Ted Balzarini, director of the labor education program at NMU. "He is an icon of pure trade unionism."

At the union level, Larsen was an active member in Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local, now Local 6. He served as a union steward for many years, and as vice president from 1955 to 1970. He also served for a period of time on the board of the United Trades Building, and often was a labor representative at U.P. Builders' shows.

Bigger grew up in Big Bay as the oldest of six children. Because of physical disabilities suffered by his parents, Bigger was forced to work at an early age to help support his family. He left school in 7th grade to work at the Henry Ford Sawmill. He later worked a short term at Schneider's Sawmill in Marquette.

At the age of 24, Bigger took his final position at Cliff-Dow Chemical, where he remained for 37 years until his death in 1968. Throughout his career, he was a strong advocate of the labor movement, serving as a business representative of Local 179 of the International Chemical Workers Union. He fought for decent wages and medical insurance.

Bigger was also very active in politics, including campaign work for Congressman Bennett and State Representative Dominic Jacobetti. He traveled to several union conventions around the country and was elected president of the Marquette Central Labor Union in 1949. He also served for a period as the Marquette Township Constable.

In addition to his employment at Cliff-Dow, Bigger founded his own logging business and later operated a brick supply business with his sons. The latter's contributions can be seen in several buildings around Marquette County, including most of the structures on the NMU campus.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director